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Thursday, April 23

NZ concerned for trapped civilians in Sri Lanka

Foreign Minister Murray McCully today appealed to Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tigers to heed international calls to end the perilous situation faced by civilians caught in fighting in northern Sri Lanka.

This follows the Sri Lanka government's warning to the Tamil Tigers to surrender immediately or face a final military assault.

"New Zealand continues to call on both sides to stop fighting, and to look for a long-term, peaceful solution to this conflict," Mr McCully.

"While the news is welcome that many thousands of civilians have managed to escape the conflict zone in recent days, we remain deeply concerned for the safety of the tens of thousands of people that are still trapped by the fighting.

"Both sides of this conflict must let civilians leave the area safely, and allow urgently-needed medical assistance and food supplies to be delivered unhindered.